Abe also touched on the strong economic ties between the two nations and said that their relationship was unbreakable.
"While recognizing that even if our ties are strained they cannot be broken, there will be problems between neighbors. For this very reason we need to maintain a relationship that keeps things under control," he said, repeating that the door for dialogue with China was always open.
Japan has been locked in a bitter territorial dispute with China over a group of tiny East China Sea islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Ships from both countries frequently shadow each other around the islands, raising fears of a clash.
Tensions escalated after China declared its air defense zone in the area in November, a move that also sparked concern from the United States and South Korea.
Abe's visit a month later to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen as a symbol of militarism because war criminals convicted by an Allied tribunal are honored there along with war dead, infuriated China and even drew criticism from the United States.